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Military divorce rate levels off in 2010

Divorce rates among members of the U.S. military leveled off in 2010 after years of increases, according to new statistics from the Department of Defense.

Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, the military divorce rate has increased from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent in 2009. In 2010, that rate remained level for the first time in five years.

The stabilization of divorce cases may indicate that a variety of programs aimed at supporting military marriages are effective. Programs such as Blue Star Families and the Army Family Covenant are available to provide counseling services to military marriages and families and reduce the stress caused by frequent deployments. General George Casey, the Army chief of staff, recently said the Army plans on investing an additional $9 billion into its Army Family Covenant program in 2011, according to Military.com.

However, while the stabilization is a positive sign, Benjamin Karney, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, warns that it does not indicate that divorce cases among military families are actually decreasing.

“This doesn’t say it’s stopped moving. When you see gradual decreases year to year, yes that’s a trend. But a stop for one year? We can’t say that’s a trend,” he told the military news website.

Among civilians, the U.S. divorce rate was 3.4 percent in 2010, slightly below military levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ohio Governor signs military child custody bill

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a child custody bill that will ensure parents who are active in the U.S. military will not have their existing custody order altered solely due to their military service.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, prohibits a court from finding that past, present or future military service is reason to modify an existing child custody order. The legislation also requires that men or women who are about to enter active service that are seeking a temporary parenting-time order notify the child’s other parent and apply to the court as early as possible.

Under the legislation, the temporary custody order will be canceled within 10 days of notice that active military service has ended.

“The men and women of our armed forces deserve our utmost respect and gratitude,” Rosenberger said in a statement. “I was shocked to learn that, with all of the sacrifices they make for our country, Ohio would not already have this law in the books.”

An emergency measure was included in the bill to ensure the law is in effect for a pending troop deployment of approximately 2,500 members of the Ohio National Guard.

More than 30 states have passed similar laws that secure child custody rights for members of the military. Most recently, Oklahoma passed the legislation in early June.

Oklahoma law protects military child custody

A new law that was recently signed by the governor of Oklahoma will protect military members from losing child custody because of their service to their country.

According to the Tulsa World, House Bill 1603 will not allow for military deployment to be used as a reason to modify child custody agreements. In addition, the law will prohibit courts from enacting final orders while a parent is deployed. It will also allow for service members to appoint a family member to represent them on matters related to custody and visitation.

A number of other bills related to military members were also signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin, who spoke of their importance.

“We owe our very freedom to the servicemen and women who risk their lives to defend this state and this nation,” she said. “I am proud to be able to sign into law a series of bills that protect their families and their rights. They deserve nothing less.”

A similar bill protecting the child custody rights of men and women in the military was recently passed by the Ohio House, according to the Hudson Hub Times.

OH child custody law to protect military rights

Legislation passed by the Ohio House would have an impact on child custody laws as it pertains to military members.

The Hudson Hub Times reports that Substitute House Bill 121 would prevent service members from losing child custody while they are deployed.

Representative Cliff Rosenberger, the main sponsor of the bill, said that he proposed the legislation after hearing from members of the military who lost child custody while serving their country.

“While our men and women are serving our nation, the last thing they should be concerned about is whether they’ll hear from their child,” he told the news source.

Specifically, the bill would bar courts from making permanent decisions about child custody orders already in place based only on the absence of a parent due to military service. Courts would still be able to issue temporary child custody orders in such cases.

There were 54.8 divorces per 100 marriages in Ohio in 2008, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health’s Center for Public Health Statistics and Informatics.